Are British workers really working harder than Italian ones?

Another stereotype I heard from average Joe is that British workers have to work many more hours a week to keep their salaries to a good standard and the GDP of Britain high, whereas workers in the PIGS deserve a lower income and possibly a sovereign default because they spend most of their time in siestas or sipping coffees whilst watching sports on telly.
Again, fact checking depicts a completely different situation. These are the official statistics from OECD, with the "average annual hours actually worked per worker" in 2012 reporting these numbers for some European countries:
  • Greece: 2034
  • Italy: 1752
  • Portugal: 1691
  • Spain: 1686
  • United Kingdom: 1654

Wow... Not just one, but all the PIGS work more than Britons! Thus the reason they deserve a sovereign default must be something else (and might have something to do with their politicians perhaps).


Are British taxpayers really pumping money to Italy?

After witnessing the umpteenth complaint about all the money British taxpayers have to pump to Southern European PIGS countries (yes Alan, I'm thinking of you!), I eventually decided to have a look at the EU budget myself.
The results are quite interesting, and despite the EU website having pulled off the best report they had (warning: broken link) Wikipedia is still quite clear on the matter.
Basically the complainants are right when they claim that the United Kingdom is a net contributor: in 2009 they put in the pot 3.8M Euros more than they received. But they are wrong when they think that they are pumping money to countries like Italy, as Italy is the third largest net contributor with a wider loss of 6M Euros (with Germany and France in first and second position, with 8.7M and 6.4M Euros respectively).
My conclusion is that before blaming the foreigner, or the different, or the ugly, or someone with a funny accent, or simply someone with a better weather, you'd rather get better informed.